France: unvaccinated health personnel will face sanctions

PARIS (AP) – French health workers will be sanctioned starting Wednesday if they are not vaccinated against COVID-19. With around 300,000 toilets still without vaccinations, some hospitals fear understaffing adds to their problems.

Vaccines are now mandatory for health, home care and emergency personnel in the country, and on Wednesday the deadline for them to have at least one dose ends. Otherwise they are exposed to a suspension of salary or not being able to work. But a court prevented his direct dismissal.

The rule was approved by parliament over the summer after the government insisted the measure was necessary to protect patients and the population from new COVID-19 outbreaks. More than 113,000 people have lost their lives in the country to the virus, and authorities say that most of those hospitalized from the latest wave of infections were unvaccinated.

It is estimated that about 90% of the country’s health personnel have received the vaccines, and surveys suggest that the majority of the population supports the obligation that they be immunized.

But with some hospitals already facing problems after a year and a half battling the pandemic and following standard treatments, some fear the understaffing could be disastrous.

“We are sounding the alarm bells … if they insist on implementing this measure, their beds will be closed, reducing the chance (of survival) of a number of patients,” said Christophe Prudhomme, doctor in the emergency department and member of the CGT union, during a protest outside the Ministry of Health on Tuesday.

In the case of health workers who have a single dose of the vaccine, they will have to undergo a screening test every three days until they complete the regimen. They have until October 15 to do so.

Companies that do not verify the status of their workers could face penalties of 135 euros ($ 160) that could go up to 3,750 euros ($ 4,430) for repeated non-compliance.

In the population as a whole, about 87% of adults received at least one dose of the vaccine and 83% have both.

But a small minority are against vaccines, including some healthcare workers. Many say they are because of the incorrect information about them that circulates on the internet, the concern about its effects in the long term or they point out that they need more time to decide. Others are angry with the government and the obligation to wear it, not because of the vaccines themselves.

A health worker carries a poster on her back with the phrase “Money for the hospital, not for capital. Our solution: hospital beds, jobs … and fast” during a protest outside the Ministry of Health for the law that requires them to be vaccinated to work, in Paris, on September 14, 2021. (AP Photo / Francois Mori)

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